JAMESSUCKLING.COM – February 2020
Chardonnay High Wire 2018 -96
A fresh, flinty and chalky edge with lemon pith, grapefruit and wet stones. Fresh melon, white peaches and pears, too. The palate has a very composed feel with assertively fresh acidity, underscoring quite pure lemons. Fresh hazelnuts to close. Exceptional focus and tension here. This is a parcel that sits right in the sweet spot of quality in the 2018 harvest. Drink or hold.
Chardonnay Casteel 2018 -94
The nose here is fresh and chalky with a fresh, flinty edge to the sliced pears, apple pastry and white peaches. The palate has a fresh attitude with good focus on entry and a build of lemons and grapefruit with peaches and pears, then apple pie to close. The pick of the crop each vintage at Bethel Heights. Drink or hold.
Chardonnay Justice Vineyard 2018 -93
There’s an exotic edge to this with plenty of ripe yellow peaches and spiced custard, as well as sliced-mango aromas. The palate has a very juicy and succulent style with an elegantly smooth, focused finish. Drink now.
Chardonnay Estate 2018 -93
A blend of five parcels, this has attractively flinty lemons, pears and white peaches with hints of freshly baked biscuit and spicy oak. The palate has a very juicy, lemon-juice and lemon-pastry core with bright acidity and a smoothly layered finish. Drink now.
Pinot Noir Southeast Block 2018 -96
Planted in 1979, this has the most striking fruit presence on the nose of all the Bethel Heights pinots with notes of blueberries and violets, as well as cocoa and blackberries. The palate has a very fleshy core of darker fruit flavors with good concentration of fruit and smoothly honed, powerful tannin. A parcel that has a real affinity with the 2018 vintage. Drink or hold.
Pinot Noir Flat Block 2018 -95
Planted in 1979, this has a very complex nose with violets and a wealth of fragrant, woody spices and sous bois, as well as red and dark cherries. The palate has a very juicy feel with vertical dimension, creating levity and a vibrant feel. Succulent, lively and delicious pinot noir with a smooth, fresh, pastry-like texture at the finish. Drink or hold.
Pinot Noir West Block 2018 -95
Planted in 1977, this has a very attractive, ripe dark and red-cherry nose with plenty of spices, leaves and dry forest wood. The palate delivers an impression of depth with cherry and cocoa flavors, wrapped in very long, succulent and sturdy tannins. Great concentration here. This is a powerfully struck, singular note of pinot. Try from 2024.
Pinot Noir Justice Vineyard 2018 -94
Planted in 1999, this has an exotic nose with a crushed-violet edge, as well as rich, cassis and blueberry aromas, in a more singular expression, – at least for now. The palate has a very fresh core of vibrant, fresh blue-fruit and blueberry-pastry flavors. Long and pure. Drinkable now, but better from 2023.
Pinot Noir Aeolian 2018 -93
This is the youngest and highest section of the vineyard, planted in 2002 on volcanic clay soils. The nose has a fresh and sweetly perfumed edge with red apples, red cherries and stones, as well as a crushed-rose note. The palate has a succinct delivery of sturdy, chiseled tannin and plenty of ripe, dark-cherry and berry flavor. Drink or hold.
Pinot Noir Estate 2018 -93
This has a sultry nose with violet and dark-cherry aromas, as well as forest-wood, sous-bois and spicy, earthy notes. The palate has a very rich delivery of super pure dark cherries and such assertive, driving, older-vine tannins. Delicious pinot with plenty of flavor. Drink or hold.
Pinot Blanc 2018 -92
This offers very drinkable style with apple-pastry and pie-crust aromas, as well as hints of lemon biscuit. The palate has impressive acidity and delicious, apple-pie flavors, laced with fresh lemons at the finish. Drink now.
Pinot Gris 2018 -91
Poached pears and apples with pie crust and a sweet, floral edge. Some peaches here, too. The palate has an innate sense of balance with smooth, long and charming presence. Drink now.